Friday, 3 July 2020

RIP Matchplay

At least as we know it. Was announced a couple of days ago that it will be behind closed doors - I think we all accepted this would be inevitable, but there was maybe a bit of hope given the boozers are open tomorrow (thank god), still, it is what it is. The question now is who is this going to help - there's a few things in play here, I asked this on the Weekly Dartscast a couple of weeks ago, but here's what I'm thinking.

The biggest thing I'm thinking is the heat, or lack of it. Blackpool, as far as I know, was always one of the hotter venues, whereas behind closed doors, while you're still going to have some TV lights, it's not going to be quite the same as a packed Winter Gardens. This might have helped out the likes of Mervyn King, and disadvantaged someone like Jamie Hughes who excelled in the furnace that was Prague last year, but neither are looking too likely to qualify in any case.

Then you've got the lack of crowd noise. I don't think this is going to make a huge difference, I think anyone that's one way on a stage player:floor player line is going to find themselves somewhat in the middle.

Final thing is tempo. Matt Edgar alluded to this somewhat on one of his recent videos, and says he'd be surprised if Glen Durrant, who's very much on the deliberate side of a deliberate:natural scale, doesn't win one of the Summer Series events. Here it's hard to disagree, someone who has a bit more of a manufactured style will surely benefit - players like Ratajski, maybe Pipe, Dolan etc, who are going to take their time anyway will notice less of a difference than other more fluid players.

We'll see, fortunately there's five events that we can take a look at beforehand, and there's been a very nice turnout announced all things considered - 117 in and 11 out from tour card holders, we're missing both Heta and KAndo (assume they can't get out of the country), all the Spaniards (maybe some issues with returning?), Siepmann (which seems odd, with him having played a behind closed doors live event, this might have been the best shot he had to do something), and other Euros in Harms, Meeuwisse, Larsson, Kantele and Michael. Challenge Tour fill up list seems fairly standard, just can't wait until Wednesday now.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

It's ranked, thank god

PDC had a quick update a couple of days ago (removing the Kurz winning an Ally Pally spot headline which had a 404 error), their Summer Series is ranked, which is a clear enough indication that these events should be close to full strength, the points will count towards the Matchplay (obviously), and they're also chucking in a Grand Slam spot to whoever tops the rankings for these five events. That seems fine, they're probably going to have to rework a bunch of things with that event anyway (how the hell do they decide the non-PDC spots with their calendar decimated?) so throwing one spot at it looks alright to me.

As such, let's first throw up a new FRH rankings - we've not had an event since March, but these are a living, breathing thing which has seen 11 events drop off the radar since the last update, and two legends of the game in Ronnie Baxter and Prakash Jiwa fall off the rankings completely, but for now, the top 20:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Nathan Aspinall
6 Michael Smith
7 Daryl Gurney
8 Glen Durrant (UP 3)
9 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
10 Ian White (DOWN 1)
11 James Wade (DOWN 1)
12 Gary Anderson
13 Krzysztof Ratajski (UP 1)
14 Mensur Suljovic (DOWN 1)
15 Chris Dobey (UP 1)
16 Adrian Lewis (DOWN 1)
17 Stephen Bunting
18 Jonny Clayton
19 Dimitri van den Bergh (NEW)
20 Joe Cullen

Whitlock drops off completely, the big mover is Durrant (obvious when you think about it), Ratajski moves to the number 2 ranking for overseas players, also we see Dimitri crack the top 20 for what I think is the first time - having a very deep worlds run is going to have helped out massively with that.

So who's going to get in the Matchplay? The seeds look close to set looking at the PDC's Matchplay race, and in any case, the last two men in (Durrant and Ratajski) are going to be clearly safe on the Pro Tour anyway. Whitlock's only a couple of grand ahead of these two, and not close on the Pro Tour, but let's be realistic - Bunting, who's the last man out, is 18k back, which is going to require a heck of an effort to get in, even if you bink one you still require four quarter finals in the remainder to sneak in by a grand - assuming Whitlock stands still and does nothing. That seems a pretty huge long shot. So we'll just look at the Pro Tour race, we'll assume these are the seeds (courtesy of PDC's article):


For future reference I need to name files better, far too many images that start "matchplay". We'll also assume anyone that is Pipe and above is safe on the Pro Tour, as he's 5k clear of 17th right now - so Cullen, Dolan, Noppert, de Sousa, Wattimena, de Zwaan, Clayton, Clemens and Pipe are fine. One or two players might get above him, but all of the players below these as well isn't going to happen. So let's put together a list of the seven provisionally in, and down to 6k below the last man in (which oddly enough doesn't include Chris Dobey, but it's right, since the last Matchplay on the Pro Tour he's been pretty ordinary):

rank player cash money best 4 pro tour 2020 ppt
10 Jamie Hughes 22750 qf-16-16-64 90.80
11 Keegan Brown 22250 qf-32-32-32 90.35
12 Dimitri van den Bergh 22000 16-64-64 89.57
13 Steve Beaton 21500 qf-qf-32-64 90.32
14 Vincent van der Voort 21250 16-16-16-32 88.65
15 Ryan Searle 19000 win-32-32-32 90.69
16 Kim Huybrechts 18750 sf-32-64-64 90.84
17 Steve West 18500 32-32-64 89.49
18 Ricky Evans 18000 16-16-32-64 90.96
19 John Henderson 17750 32-32-32-64 92.65
20 Luke Humphries 17500 16-32-32-32 93.37
21 Ron Meulenkamp 15750 64-64 90.21
22 Stephen Bunting 15500 sf-16-16-64 91.62
23 Willie O'Connor 15250 qf-32-64-64 92.01
24 Ryan Joyce 15250 16-32-32-64 91.58
25 Mervyn King 15000 32-64-64-64 90.72
26 Devon Petersen 13250 sf-16-64 95.21
27 Mickey Mansell 13000 qf-16-32-32 89.69
28 Dirk van Duijvenbode 13000 sf-16-32-32 92.78
29 Ross Smith 13000 qf-16-32-64 90.92

Best four pro tour just considers the eight events played in that series. Let's start from the top - Hughes and Brown have enough of a combination of money in the bank, quality of play and results to be safe as houses. Beaton's probably the same. Dimitri hasn't been playing quite as well, or getting results, but with a semi final lead on enough people, he ought to be able to put one thing into place. Vincent's a funny one, statistically he's not been good, but he's been getting results, so again with enough in the bank he should be able to grind out enough to be safe.

This leaves a bunch of people scrapping for two spots I think. It really doesn't need much to be able to force your way in - but you need to be showing enough to not only get in, but to stay in, as there's a lot of people that are in the mix. There's a bit too much of a gap for the bottom four on this list, although Devon and Dirk are playing well enough that they can put together one really good event and throw themselves right up into the mix. King I think is in real trouble, just not getting results, Joyce looks in a much better position. O'Connor looks better again - higher standard of play, and has shown in fairly recent memory enough to be able to punch a ticket to Blackpool. Bunting is maybe similar. Meulenkamp we can probably chuck out, 2020 has not been kind to date. Humphries is probably the one player who's outside who can power in - his scoring is really good, he's not that far behind and he's been getting fairly consistent money, although having one very good run is going to help out a lot. Henderson's not playing that much worse, but results are a little bit worse, scoring's a little bit worse, and most people would feel he's not quite at Luke's level as of right now. Evans isn't showing enough to have any sort of edge among that group from 15th to 20th that makes me think he'll claim a spot, and West certainly isn't.

So can Searle and Huybrechts hold on? Searle definitely has a chance, he's won one this year and looks to have got the bad run he had well behind him at this stage, while Huybrechts I think is a bit more vulnerable - that semi final was in the one where we had all the withdrawals (although in fairness he did beat some good players), and he got 2k for free as a result of Belgium being the only place this year to hold a Euro Tour.

Outside of a Dobey bink, I don't think there's anyone outside of this list that's realistic, Damon Heta maybe, but he's even further behind than Dobey is so it's that much more of an ask.

One key thing here that's often overlooked is what the fields for these events are going to look like. The thing about the Pro Tour list is that those who are going to creep in are typically going to be around the low 20's and high 30's in the Pro Tour rankings right now - exactly those sorts of players who are going to get low seeds, and hence run into an elite player in the last 32 potentially, that can greatly limit your earning power. Is it better to know you're not going to get a seed in the first two rounds (although there's some really, really good non-seeds you can hit obviously) and be sure you're going to hit an MvG, Wright etc and have a good chance of ending up with 1k tops, or do you want to roll the dice on ending up in a random sector of the draw and get an easier seed, albeit in round 1 or 2? Tricky one to call, once we get entrant lists we can probably project a fair bit easier.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Not dead

No post for a week, but that's really only because there's not been a great deal happening - we're in kind of a holding pattern re: the PDC, there's nothing happening in the BDO other than Warren firing shots at Jacklin(s), outside of Modus there's not a great deal being played anywhere. Steve Brown's dipping his toes into the senior game, although quite what they're aiming to do that the WDF wouldn't, I'm not sure. There's little news about the Matchplay - the long overdue news that we can go down the boozer in a couple of weeks is clearly a prerequisite, although I'm thinking it's still a huge longshot that it is played in Blackpool. Maybe if they have huge numbers of fans refunding/postponing their tickets they can think about it, but I'm really not sure how they can think it'll run as scheduled. That's about it really, I've got some huge upgrades to the master computer coming soon which'll be nice when we do finally get back up and running.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Some brief thoughts on the Challenge Tour

Just been watching a bit of the German Superleague - passed on the Clemens/Bilderl game, which was as one sided as you might have thought, but the standard on the finals day is so much better than the group stages, it's almost night and day - we're not seeing tons and tons of legs drag past 18 darts, the conventional averages are high, it's all very watchable. The semis are Clemens/Kurz and Horvat/Unterbuchner, which you might have expected, maybe Klose having won his group could have kept things a bit closer and perhaps Siepmann could have taken Dragutin out, but he didn't. That first semi should be quality, I think I'll tune into the whole event.

So, why am I going on about the Challenge Tour now? Basically, I've had a thought similar to what I posted briefly about regarding the German event a couple of days ago. Why does the Challenge Tour need to be a free for all?

The big problem the Challenge Tour has had is that it's hugely oversubscribed - at least for the first few events, I'm sure the numbers drop a bit once we get towards the end of the season and lesser players realise they're not going to finish high enough up to get any perks. As such, rather than just one level of Challenge Tour, why don't we have two?

In such a system, I would be thinking that you cap a Challenge Tour tier 1 event at 128 players, just like the Pro Tour. Let's say that the top 24 from last season's CT (minus players who got onto the tour obv) and the top 24 points scorers from Q-School (split between however many venues they use) get a free pass to every event. That leaves 80 spots to fill the field. Have the first weekend operate as normal - logistically it makes sense to have four events over three days, one tournament Friday, one tournament then play down to last 64 in a second on Saturday, then play that to its conclusion and a further event on Sunday. If, of course, they don't do like I've suggested previously and schedule that first weekend either immediately before or after the Dutch Open in the Netherlands.

The second weekend is then held with just 128 players per tournament over a weekend (with 32 boards, two per day is very easy), containing the 48 players by right, and 80 filled up from the Challenge Tour Order of Merit. Of those 80, the top 40 can stay on to the next weekend, and the bottom 40 don't get to play - these are replaced by 40 players who have won their way through a second tier event, either run at the same time or in between the two.

Repeat these cycles, although in each one you'd only consider money won from the previous weekend so that players who've just "promoted" have a chance to stay up, if you want to play the full Challenge Tour you have to earn your way in and get results.

Friday, 12 June 2020

DARTS! ON!

It's a bit later than anticipated, but finally we have a reveal as to what the PDC is planning to do - five events, running from July 8-12 (which is a Wednesday to Sunday) down in Milton Keynes, in the same venue where they held the snooker that has an on-site hotel next to MK Dons' ground (and, critically, a KFC). There's not been a massive amount more at this stage, other than that the events are currently ranked, although that is apparently subject to change if large numbers of non-UK players can get here.

What we know at the moment is there's three and a bit weeks to go until that point, and they're due to revisit the quarantine rules two weeks tomorrow (assuming BA, Ryanair etc don't win their judicial review before then, which frankly they should). Regardless of what happens at that point, it gives plenty of lead time for players to sort their travel arrangements, and even if the comical quarantine rulings stay (which are pretty much unenforceable and you've got to be pretty dumb to get caught out by them), it'd still leave the window for someone to fly in that Monday and stay in the hotel for two weeks, incorporating the events into the quarantine time.

What we don't know at this stage is plenty - it's probably easier to watch Matt Edgar's video that he put out today, as he covered a lot of what I'm thinking, but I'll summarise:

- Matt was wondering if there'd be an event, indicating unranked, to get people back into the swing of "live" darts, and how the logistics would work of running the event. I think we've got to assume that they'll have the thing set up a day or two before to allow for some walkthroughs, demonstrations and practice, maybe they could have done the first event unranked and the next four as ranked, but there's a lot of a backlog to catch up on so doing them all ranked seems fine.

- Matt also wondered if these events are going to count towards Matchplay qualification. Fair point, there's no indication one way or another, but one would assume yes.

- One thing that isn't clear is if these are going to operate as normal Players Championship events, and if they can't get all 128 tour card holders in (it is interesting that it is worded "The Summer Series will see all 128 Tour Card Holders given the chance to compete") whether they're going to call up Mitchell etc to fill the field. One would also assume yes, although the scheduling is right across the next couple of Challenge Tour days - then again, the concept of being able to run a Challenge Tour within the next month is lol.

There'll probably plenty of internal discussions that'll clear up a bunch of things, but that's my thoughts right now. Just glad we know something is going on, and we can start to get back to some sort of normal schedule. If they're not moving the Matchplay dates, one would think that they'll do something similar in August to further catch up on the missed Pro Tours.

There's also a decent interview between Matt Porter and, if I remember rightly, Phil Barrs, where they talk a whole lot of things, Matt doesn't really tell us anything new, but I think it's worth the watch.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

German finals

We're powering down to the last round of the German Superleague next weekend after group B finished up, in one half we've got Clemens against Bilderl, who crept in with a last game victory over Langendorf to claim the last spot, then we have Kurz against Münch, while in the other half big surprise winner Klose will face off against Unterbuchner, while Siepmann will play against Horvat. Let's post some stats up:


Surprising to me how high Bilderl finished up, so credit where it's due, but it's definitely highlighting that the top half of the draw is that much stronger with all of the top four players in overall average in that half. There's not a great deal of top quality going on, even Clemens is several points below his best, and out of the 1k+ legs we saw, we only saw 26 go in twelve or less, which is a fair bit off the pace. Still, you only improve while playing competitive games, there's plenty on the line and not a huge deal to choose between them. There were a few decent spots last weekend - Kohnlein's performance against Bilderl was very good, Horvat had a nice couple of cameos against Langendorf (but lost), with the finals day being longer hopefully the standard will improve.

Still waiting on Pro Tour news, hopefully we get something tomorrow, meanwhile Richard Veenstra condemned Paul Hogan to a second RDL final defeat, seemed like a competent enough standard throughout. Didn't actually watch it, I'll probably catch up tomorrow although Richard's stream quality didn't seem the greatest so I'll see how it goes. If we do get some PDC news, I'll probably post tomorrow with thoughts.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Matchplay is on, apparently

So the PDC announced yesterday that the Matchplay will be taking place on the original dates as scheduled. This seems batshit insane to me, especially as Porter is saying "it's still our intention... to stage it with a crowd", the words coming to mind being thinking, wishful and extremely in some order. They've got a backup plan in place with an alternate venue supposedly, which I've got to be thinking they're going to use in all likelihood.

That leaves the question why they didn't push it back to increase the probability of crowds? Two possibilities here - either the Winter Gardens isn't available in later August (why that'd be the case when everything still seems to be blanket cancelled for months, I've had a gig in September cancel on me this week), or it's contracts. Probably the latter, Sky will likely be demanding that they have the event at that time, and if they pushed it back to a later date in August, it'd coincide with other sporting events that'll be starting to get under way.

The other question is how they handle qualification. They do state that they intend to resume Players Championship events from July, which doesn't leave a heck of a lot of time to get them in, unless they book out a venue for a week (using the Milton Keynes venue they're using for the snooker which has an on location hotel might be possible, especially given it's been rumoured as an alternate Matchplay venue). There's still the question of what happens to ranking money that was earned for Euro Tour events that are either not taking place at all, or are taking place after the Matchplay - I'm guessing the PDC will quietly ignore those issues. They correctly note that this is all subject to further coronaparanoia restrictions, but the whole quarantine issue is easily enough dealt with if foreign players use the hotel as their location (as with the West Indies touring, they are able to effectively train at whichever of Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl they are at while they are technically quarantined), they can even play while doing so. There may be some issues with the likes of the Australian players who may not be able to leave their country (surely Kyle can say he's had it and is fine to leave?), but if it's down to a minimal level then, while it'd be harsh for the likes of Kyle, Damon or Simon, I think they just have to move on with it and work out any qualification issues later.

Nathan Aspinall won the Home Tour. As I've just posted on Twitter, it is a fucking good job that Anderson didn't win it - if anyone was placing outright bets for the event when it was believed he wasn't even going to be in the field, that'd create one hell of a situation.

Remote Darts League is coming to its conclusion. I think if they want to include ladies in any future event, it's got to be less players and carefully selected. Outside of their match against each other, with a theoretical maximum leg difference of -168, Pace and Osborne managed -144, and the other two only picked up three points outside of the matches on the ladies night (with Turner beating Herewini on an opening night where the whole logistics has got to have been hugely working against him for a first attempt), Winstanley also got a point against Darren. It's looking like the next couple of nights should provide a real close battle for playoff spots, Richardson and Hogan look safe as houses, while the guys on 18 who are finished (Butler, Tricole, Cameron) will surely be overhauled by some combination of O'Shea (John), Williams, Veenstra, Chaney or possibly Thompson. With the remaining groups being JOS/Veenstra/Chaney/Thompson and then TOS/Williams/Richardson/Hogan, I'm thinking the last two spots will surely come from whoever has a real good night tonight. I'll probably watch bits and pieces of it (annoyingly it clashes with a big monthly event in another game I follow) as there's going to be a lot on the line in this one.

Still not a lot really happening elsewhere, apparently someone's worked out that Gordon Mathers has qualified for Ally Pally on account of the DPA cancelling the remainder of their season, if that's actually how they're going to do it or not isn't entirely clear, the DPA's website wasn't working the last time I checked and it's now redirecting somewhere else entirely, and there's nothing on the PDC's website either. Des continues to put out poorly written letters to the counties, can someone just take a bolt gun to the head of the BDO already.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Still waiting for news

As the Home Tour meanders to its conclusion, with Ando and Klaasen having got through the first semi final group, and with the Remote Darts League getting towards the same stage with what looks like it could be a pretty exciting fight for playoff places, only Hogan really looking safe along with Richardson if he does work with his games in hand tonight, we're still waiting for the big PDC news as to what the hell they're going to do with live darts going forward. Until then, what's to mention?

Well, Wolfie got a nine darter today. Nice work from Martin, seems like he's been playing his best stuff in quite some time.

Duzza posted an interesting question on Twitter earlier, namely whether once we're past the coronaparanoia stage, is there any sort of future for "online" darts? That's a good question, and I'm thinking there's still going to be a bit of a market, although it'll be somewhat different - obviously it's still going to be predominantly focussed around non card holders because PDC protectionism, but where there's going to be a market is in matching up players against each other that normally wouldn't play each other, or would rarely do so, for geographical and financial reasons. We're seeing the RDL do this somewhat with how they've invited some of the better Australasian and North American players, where I can see things properly going is some sort of affiliated tour face offs - it may be a little bit tricky with some of the time differentials, but I think there'd be a market for the PDC to get their affiliates to arrange some of their tour weekends at the same time, and then tack on a day to provide a streamed "tour vs tour" event. There's a few things going for this - you'd have all the players in the same venue anyway, so you'd be able to put a bit more effort into production quality, and it'd probably be reasonable enough to chuck a few quid at the players for an extra hotel night in terms of expenses.

A sensible trial event for such a thing would be DPA vs Asian Tour, if only so you eliminate much of the time differential issues that might some up with other alternatives - Japan/Korea is only an hour different, if at all, from anywhere in Australia you might think about playing an event in, places like Singapore and the Philippines would be perfect for Perth and only a couple of hours off the rest of the populated areas. Get the logistics right with everyone working on the same sort of time of the day, and then work on the rest later, although as long as you're placing the Americas so that they'd play anything from Europe from the east coast and anywhere else from the west coast, it wouldn't be insurmountable in the slightest.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Milton Keynes? Really?

That's the latest rumour that's been thrown about in terms of the Matchplay, seemingly in the venue where they're currently holding some worthless snooker event. Whatever they need to get it on I guess, if they're working on a no crowd scenario then maybe it mitigates it, maybe they need to push it back and the existing venue isn't available. Who knows. Hopefully by the end of the week we know a lot more as to what the hell is going on with the schedule.

First group of the German Superleague is done, Clemens obv won by a mile, if I was picking one of the other cardholders to get through I'd have gone with Bunse over Siepmann, a little bit of a turnup for the books I think, not yet thrown the stats into the master computer but I don't see a massive rush to do so. Münch and Unterbuchner also got through, if it's not Bunse then these are probably the players with the greatest pedigree, Stein was a bit unlucky to miss out on a playoff spot (three players from 3rd-5th were tied and split by, I assume, leg difference), Gotthardt also had a decent showing. Kniest seemed a fair bit out of his depth, but if he was one of the guys that got called up late then it's perhaps understandable.

One thing I think they should consider doing next year is to bar tour card holders from entering this, and have them simply get a bye through to the finals stages (if they want it - it'd be understandable if Hopp or Clemens gave it a miss as neither should need the help to get into the worlds), which should keep the initial league stages a lot more competitive. Probably need to change the finals format and increase the number of players to 12 - if they were to do that this season, you'd have the five guys that had a card plus seven that didn't, do something like two pools of six on a Saturday, have the winners go straight through to the semis and 2nd/3rd play off in a quarter finals. I think that'd work quite nicely. Another thing they could try for the league as a whole is to not keep the same lineup every week - if you've got 16 players, only have the top 12 keep their spot for a previous week, and the other four spots are filled out by a qualifier the previous evening. Or from a parallel 2. Liga that runs in an alternate week or something like that. There's lots of things that you could try.

Friday, 29 May 2020

News!

And no, I'm not talking about the BDO cancelling everything, we'd been able to work that one out from the start, it's more that the PDC has actually started to add some clarity to the schedule, by saying the following:

- Half the Euro Tour (basically anything in Germany or the Netherlands before September) is cancelled
- The Austrian Euro Tour event is also binned off as they've moved the World Cup to that weekend. Refund for me at least
- They still, oddly, have the World Series finals not having been cancelled, despite them taking place in Austria where they could have held that Euro Tour. A few people saying TV contracts might be reason and that "we must have this unranked event on our screens" which seems as good a reason as any I suppose

This asks more questions than it answers to be honest. By saying this, they're throwing a world of confusion to players who had qualified for ET2-4 which are now off the schedule, as well as what happens to the ranking money that they had accrued, whether that counts for anything, if so when does it count (do they move those qualification spots to the events that are now scheduled, presumably after the Matchplay?), are they just going to have the European Championship run off five events, and so on and so on.

Frankly this isn't really acceptable, at least the public facing side of it is. They might have answered all these questions to the PDPA, who knows, hopefully we get some clarity by the end of the week.

Meanwhile the Home Tour rolls on, they must be so thankful that Ando got his wifi working, it'd be a hard sell if they kept getting the likes of Klaasen and de Decker reach the later stages, fine players that they are not withstanding.

Also, am I the only one that really doesn't get what Modus are doing in terms of their streams? I mean yes, darts is darts, but at least with the Home Tour, we (now) know where it's going, the same with the Remote Darts League. If there is some rhyme and reason to it I'm yet to work it out, appears mostly to be just self contained events, which when you do as many of them as they are doing loses any sort of interest almost immediately.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Where do we go from here?

We're still in somewhat of a holding pattern in terms of what the PDC is doing regarding their schedule, which is fairly frustrating for everyone. Who knows what's been discussed in private between the PDC, PDPA and other parties, but let's piece together what we do know at the moment:

- The Home Tour's scheduled through until June 5th
- The PDC have stated they'll announce something in relation to that event by that date, so the logical thing to do from a publicity point of view would be for Uncle Barry to do some sort of good news promo prior to the final Home Tour group for the ratings
- Apart from the Matchplay there are no main tour events scheduled prior to Hungary in September, there's Premier League but that's it
- Priti Vacant has nuked the UK economy from orbit with idiotic quarantine measures that achieve very little and do nothing much
- The German Superleague doesn't finish until June 14th

As a result, what I'm anticipating them doing is the following:

- The Matchplay is announced to be pushed back to the last week in August, giving as much chance as possible for the event to take place with some fans in attendance, at the present timings I don't think that's in any way realistic given current overly defensive government policies
- The Pro Tour will return starting on July 11th at Wigan, where they already have their venue booked for the Challenge Tour. I don't think it's in any way realistic that the numbers in a Challenge Tour event can be "safely" managed (and I use those quotes on account of the only risk to >99% of Challenge Tour participants is that they pass it to others in vulnerable groups), even if they cut to just one event in a day, whereas somewhere that's capable of running a 32 board event with Challenge Tour numbers is more likely to be able to do a Pro Tour
- This will allow a month's window for players from overseas to get into the UK, go to prison for two weeks (assuming Vacant doesn't do a 180) and then be good to go prior to the Pro Tour starting
- In the event that players are unable to travel back to the UK due to restrictions put in place by their home countries (I'm thinking this is mostly just Australia but there may be others), they will be permitted some sort of dispensation for major events, whereby if their earning rate in the events is such that they would have been able to qualify for a major they get a play in game against the last Pro Tour qualifier or something like that (in the event of the worlds, they can simply offer a wildcard)
- The schedule is then condensed to power through as many of the Pro Tour events as possible in order to catch up to where we would have been prior to the coronaplague restrictions, as well as possibly one or two of the Euro Tour events, behind closed doors but keeping the same format (some work around for what would have been the host nation qualifiers would be needed, but as it seems like the ones cancelled have mostly been in Germany, they would probably either be able to arrange a stack of qualifiers there and/or give wildcards using Superleague standings)

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

German Superleague 2 - Electric Boogaloo

Thrown the stats into the master computer:


Few simple things we can draw from that - Clemens was badly, badly pulled down to the level of everyone else and/or simply couldn't be bothered to get out of second gear as he didn't need to. Münch either ran hotter than the sun in some legs, or took a bunch of legs off. Probably somewhere in the middle, but it's hard to infer where his actual standard of play is at. Gotthardt looks to have been a bit unlucky, that's a pretty decent losing average, it's the first I've seen of him (I certainly don't recall the name from any Euro Tour qualifiers, looking at dartsdatabase he seems to have been absent last year) but having played the Dev Tour as recently as 2015, he could develop nicely. Disappointing showing from Bunse, and Stein seems fairly lucky to have grabbed three wins.

Next weekend we've got Kurz, Eidams, Horvat, Langendorf, Bilderl, Koch, Köhnlein and Klose - it's only really Daniel that's a new name but the remainder of the last four are players that I've not seen a great deal of, so I'll probably pick and choose to see what they can do. It's certainly an interesting mix with between young and old with plenty of players with big stage experience.

Remote Darts League is under way, watching a bit of it now primarily for Hogan and Herewini, as we kind of feared last night Osborne got smacked about a bit, and seems out of her depth, I worry this is going to continue like that for the rest of her games (and the other ladies player that I don't really know), but we'll see.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

German Superleague

Evening,

Watched a bit of this on and off today in between the Bundesliga, mainly just to see what the sort of set up they have going on is, as clearly this is going to be used as some sort of trial for social distancing measures when they get back to the Pro Tour proper. It was an interesting enough setup, keeping each of the player's tables fairly separate, and having the hero we deserve effectively being a lollipop lady to keep the other player away from the oche until it's safe to do so. Seems a tad bit of overkill and they could simply mark out the standard exclusion zone they have at normal TV events but make it a bit bigger, but it is what it is, and if it's allowing us to get some darts on, I'll allow it.

As for the actual darts itself, as mentioned I didn't watch a massive amount of it (will probably watch more tomorrow), but Kai Gotthardt looked alright in places, nicking the win off Christian Bunse (who seemed a fair bit off the pace), god knows how Jens Kniest qualified, and it's not a bad start from Sascha Stein who picked up three wins. Looks like it's a double round robin with everyone playing everyone over the course of a weekend.

I think I'll add this to the tracking database. It seems like a high enough standard, it's effectively an affiliated tour so as we track the DPA, SDC etc it makes sense, and if it's going to shove a bunch of German players into the database it'll help a load when it comes to projecting Euro Tours, if and when they get under way.

The thing to note with this is that they are scheduling this through at least mid June, so with tour card players involved, I guess there's no way they're looking at scheduling any Pro Tours until after then?

Friday, 15 May 2020

Home Tour - more stuff

I now see that they've released the last four groups, and Ando's manage to upgrade his potato up to some sort of slightly better vegetable and is able to play. At this point, words fail me, and I feel incredibly sorry for anyone who had outright punts on Chizzy, Aspinall, or anyone half decent who had won an early group and looked value given that they knew there was no Anderson, van Gerwen, Price or Wright at that time. Then again, if you are putting any more than token money for comedy value on a friendly event, then I'm not really sure what to say.

The Remote Darts League 2 - Electric Boogaloo has been announced, and it's got a few interesting names - seeing Tricole should be interesting enough, I kind of guessed that Veenstra might be someone that got picked up, and getting some good antipodean and north American representation is a decent enough addition. The ladies' selections are pretty underwhelming though - obviously they're not going to have got any of the big three, but while Turner and Winstanley aren't bad players by any stretch of the imagination, the other two I've never heard of. Seems a bit like selecting ladies' players for the sake of it, if they'd have stuck with the first two then I think it'd be fine, but selecting two players I've never heard of, one of whom doesn't even have a dartsdatabase record, is a little bit overkill. I'm also not really sure what they're doing with the format, I've heard some sort of weird partial group system but I guess all will become clear in due course.

Also, we've got the German Superleague tomorrow. Apparently streamed - is this live? I'd guess so seeing how the Bundesliga's starting tomorrow as well, may need to catch a bit of that, it's more hope that we're getting a bit closer to normality, and that we might see other live action sooner rather than later and some part of the season might be saved.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Home Tour 26-28

Could probably rename this part of the event Michael Smith 2 - Electric Boogaloo, as the PDC's method of making things up as they go along seems to consist of having a bunch of retreads who failed the first time get a second pop at it. Pretty uninspiring, so while I've not watched anywhere near as much as I thought I would have done initially, I'll likely not be bothering with things for the remainder until they get up to the playoffs, whatever form they will take.

In good news however is the concept that elite sport behind closed doors is seemingly going to be allowed to take place from next month. This, of course, is dependent on more coronaplague developments, but should at least allow for the Pro Tour to resume at some point in the near future, and is also going to have the issues of completely pointless quarantining of inbound flights (if it's as prevalent as certain media would like you to believe here, having the odd person come in with it isn't going to make too much difference) and/or some overseas players maybe having issues leaving the country at their end. Still, at least it's a start and we can look towards some form of normality and getting some events played in the somewhat near future. Hopefully.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Home Tour 25

Hmm, last couple of nights didn't really go to plan with Jesus Noguera and Daniel Larsson coming from nowhere to deny our White/Noppert and DvD combinations (Larsson swept the group ffs, I didn't think he'd take a point), do we see anything interesting in group 25? Not really sure why Brown is getting a redo, but it is what it is, we've also got Jose de Sousa, Reece Robinson and Robert Thornton in there. My first thought is that Robinson/Thornton would be outsiders roughly equal valued, and that de Sousa should be favoured over Keegan, but he'll probably remain undervalued and not be a huge favourite over him, so maybe Jose at around 6/4, Brown 2/1 or so and the others in the 4/1-5/1 range, which, er, is exactly what 365 are pricing things at. As such I don't think there's any value, I'm not sure that de Sousa really takes this that much more often than 40% of the time that we can have a stab at it.

Should note that the notice of the BDO's "commercial arm", whatever that is, seems to be going busto, hopefully that should help to push things further towards what should be the natural order of PDC = professional game, WDF = worldwide amateur game, anything else = no pretence of anything beyond national level. Of course, the probability of anything concrete going forward in the current climate seems slim to none. Lancashire having apparently voted to leave the BICC today and the apparent discontent of all the Scottish counties will surely just accelerate the obvious demise of the BDO.

Thinking of who we've still got left to see play in the Home Tour, with 25 groups accounting for 98 players and two Keegan Browns we're down to 29 left:

Aaron Beeney (key working), Adrian Lewis, Barrie Bates, Benito van de Pas (said he's not playing), Boris Krcmar, Brendan Dolan, Cristo Reyes, Darren Penhall, Daryl Gurney (said he's not playing), Derk Telnekes (already pushed back once?), Gary Anderson (streaming on potato), Jason Lowe, Jeffrey de Zwaan (injured, but originally said he wasn't playing), Josh Payne, Madars Razma (starts too late), Mark McGeeney, Marko Kantele (said he's not playing), Mensur Suljovic, Mervyn King, Michael Barnard, Michael van Gerwen (said he's not playing), Steffen Siepmann (said he's not playing), Steve Lennon (said he's not playing), Steve West, Vincent van der Voort (said he's not playing), Wayne Jones, Wesley Harms (said he's not playing), Willie O'Connor, Yordi Meeuwisse.

Groups 26-28 apparently drop today, but there's not many left that haven't ruled themselves out, or at least have been rumoured to be out at least on Twitter when first announced (Noppert was apparently out but later played). Not sure what they do from here, but we should know soon enough.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Home Tour 21-24

Not sure exactly who's left at this stage, there can't be that many players that haven't already said they're out yet, but let's have a look at each group:

21 - Cross/DvdB/Borland/Sedlacek - This ought to be Rob's group. While Dimitri can do something here, playing in his kitchen is probably the exact opposite to where you'd think he'll do his best work. Karel could potentially do something and cause an upset, Borland isn't terrible, but seeing 8/11 for Cross to take the group seems about right. Can't see that anyone's recalibrated their odds to reflect Telnekes moving back, but I can't see Derk to Karel making a huge difference.

22 - White/Noppert/Wilson/Noguera - OK, now this one is interesting in that we've got two players who are always underrated, one guy who's out of form, and one wildcard - this is going to come down to White against Noppert you'd feel, and the odds I think favour going with Danny. 8/11 on White to claim the group doesn't seem nearly as nice as 5/2 on Noppert to do so, I think if you put 2 on White for every one on Noppie you've got a pretty safe arb here, but I might just set it up so that a White win is breakeven and we're freerolling on Danny.

23 - Anderson/van Duijvenbode/Schindler/Larsson - Wow, this one's super tough to call, we've got three players that I've always been distinctly higher than most on - Kyle we don't know where he's at, Schindler hasn't done it for a while, so DvD at 9/4 looks like a really good play. I can't see Larsson troubling the scorers, and the time difference could easily play a factor as well (although it didn't exactly harm Heta).

24 - Ratajski/Hughes/Labanauskas/Alcinas - Oh boy, this one's equally tough. The easy answer is Ratajski, but at odds on I'm not sure I can justify the play. Hughes at 5/2 seems like better value than Labanauskas at 7/2, and if he shows what he could do at his peak, rather than what he has done when he should have lost his card if others had kept theirs, then Alcinas at 9's would probably be worth a punt. I don't think I want to run any sort of sims, this should just be very high quality throughout.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

TA Pro Tour Finals - the final session

Who will be the final winner? Let's see.


Danny NoppertLegMichael van Gerwen
00111
00212
11302
21402
31502
30613
41703
40814
51904
501015
611105
601216
601317
601418
601519
6016110

It won't be Danny Noppert, who played well enough to keep things level through twelve legs, but from there van Gerwen upped his game with a five leg winning spurt to move through to the semi finals.

Rob CrossLegDaryl Gurney
00111
00212
00313
00414
11504
21604
31704
41804
51904
501015
501116
501217
501318
501419
611509
711609
811709
911809
1011909
It won't be Daryl Gurney either, as Cross came through a swingy game that had some hints of their Matchplay encounter about it, Gurney throwing away a 4-0 lead, then when on the brink of victory at 9-5 up, allowed Rob to come back with five straight legs to claim it in a decider, so after a repeat of one of the best Matchplay semis ever, we'll get a repeat of one of the best worlds semis ever.

Max HoppLegJames Wade
00111
11201
10312
10413
10514
21604
31704
30815
30916
301017
301118
301219
411309
4014110
It won't be an all-German semi final, as Wade was able to get a good lead early in the matchup, have the second session effectively go on throw to go into the final break with a four leg lead, then only drop one further leg from there as Max's run ends and he's unable to push forward into the semi finals.

Simon WhitlockLegGabriel Clemens
11100
10211
10312
10413
21503
20614
31704
30815
41905
511005
501116
501217
611307
601418
601519
6016110
We will, however, have one German at that stage, as Gabriel Clemens was able to do just enough to see off a resurgent Simon Whitlock in the quarters. Both the first two sessions went 3-2 against the darts, but Gabriel came out of the break on fire, immediately stealing the darts off Simon, not giving up another leg on throw and getting a further break to seal the deal.

Michael van GerwenLegRob Cross
00111
11201
10312
21402
31502
30613
41703
40814
51904
611004
711104
811204
911304
1011404
It's the number one seed who's through to the final with a surprisingly easy victory over Rob Cross, in an odd game where the players traded two breaks each then two holds each, but 4-4 would be the closest Rob got to victory, as in a somewhat similar pattern to the quarter final, Michael didn't drop another leg and coasted through to the final.

Gabriel ClemensLegJames Wade
11100
21200
31300
30411
41501
40612
51702
50813
61903
601014
601115
601216
601317
601418
601519
6016110
It won't be a first big final for Gabriel - in a similar pattern to the other semi final, James Wade was able to power away when it mattered to clinch a final spot. It was looking pretty good for Gabriel, breaking early and holding his throw through the first two sessions to go in with a 6-4 advantage, but that'd be it for the German as Wade put together a seven leg streak to go one match away from the title.

Michael van GerwenLegJames Wade
00111
00212
11302
21402
20513
20614
31704
30815
41905
401016
511106
501217
611307
711407
811507
801618
911708
901819
9019110
And Wade was able to take it! Despite not having made a single final in the regular season, James was able to upset the number one seed and put another trophy in the cabinet. The first session was nice as he was able to get the break he needed, then we had the two players trading holds until leg 14, where Michael was able to get the match back on throw. With his record in deciding legs, you'd have thought that after two more holds the title would be in the bank, but Wade was able to break when it mattered the most - in a deciding leg.

A bit of a surprising one for me - if you're picking someone from outside the big three to be the next to win a major going forward, I'm guessing Wade probably isn't in most people's top five, or if he is, only just.